The Bathing of the Sphinx by artists Rosa Nussbaum and Renee Lai, was comissioned by the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin, Texas.
The Elisabet Ney Museum is housed in the former studio of sculptor Elisabet Ney and is dedicated to showcasing her life and works.
The exhibition features an outdoor sculpture on the grounds of the museum and a video installation inside the museum itself. Both works interweave the bodies of artists Rosa Nussbaum and Renee Lai and their own fraught relationships with art, Texas and femininity into Ney’s own account of her life and struggles as a woman artist. During Lai and Nussbaum's research, they discovered an account of a missing statue, in which Ney had depicted herself as a sphinx. In the work, this lost sphinx becomes the guide and proxy to Ney’s enigmatic personal history.
The plaster head of the sculpture features the faces of both artists, on either side of the sphere of a full moon. Lai’s face stares up and out into the sky, Nussbaum’s gazes back and down at her own reflection.
Embedded in the neck of the sphinx is an egg; a reference to Ney’s habit of eating a raw egg for breakfast everyday and her disinterest in cooking and other domestic chores.